BELLEVILLE — For almost four months, a 20-year-old East St. Louis man has been behind bars accused of robbing and raping a woman at the Emerson Park MetroLink station.
The man, Marlon Miller, emerged from the St. Clair County Jail about 3 p.m. Tuesday after DNA results cleared him of the crime.
Miller initially denied the crime, but said investigators beat him and forced him into admitting the robbery.
"They told me if I admitted to the robbery, they would let me go home. But, they didn't. They charged me with robbery and rape," Miller said. He said the detective told him before he signed the confession that if he didn't admit to the robbery, "he was going to make sure I went down for the rape."
One of the officers he says hit him was former East St. Louis detective Orlando Ward, who resigned last month after being arrested. He faces drug charges.
St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly and East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Floore could not be reached for comment.
As for Miller, he was greeted outside the jail by his mother, his uncle and his fiancee. He says he is ready to get on with his life.
"The DNA results came back yesterday. It was an awesome feeling. The nightmare was over. It was the end to excruciating pain. I had been under a lot of stress. I lost my stepfather while I was in jail. And, because I was locked up, I couldn't go to the funeral," Miller said.
When he saw his family outside the jail Tuesday he said: "I couldn't believe it. I was finally free and I can continue on with my life."
Miller said the night he was accused of committing the rape, he caught the MetroLink and was going to his Collinsville home. He said his family never doubted his innocence.
"They know I am not that kind of person. I don't get down like that. ... Everyone was by my side the whole way. They helped me get a lawyer and fight for my freedom," he said.
Miller's mother, Shelia Young, wept as she talked about her son.
"The things he told me he went through. I don't want another mother to experience my nightmare. This is the worst nightmare," she said. "When your child cries out for help and you can't help him, it's an awful feeling. All I could do was hope he would be okay."
She learned her son had been arrested while she was doing six months in prison.
Miller was arrested Feb. 20 and charged the following day with the rape and robbery of a 32-year-old East St. Louis woman. At the time, Floore said the victim begged for her life.
Miller's uncle, Duane Foster, said the ordeal took a toll on the family.
"He's been running everybody's phone bill up. He's been under so much duress, and calling home crying everyday. I had to talk to him to calm him down and keep him strong," he said. "We let him know that we were working on getting him out of jail."
Foster said the family is consulting with attorney William Stiehl Jr. about their legal options.
"I knew they had the wrong man. Marlon is not that kind of person. I am just glad he is out of that jail," Young said.